As a truck driver, some hauls may be drop-and-hook. This means that you will not be responsible for securing freight. However, others may require you to place cargo. In these cases, it is important that you closely follow all regulations to ensure the safety of yourself, others on the road, and the materials you are transporting. Even if you do not load your vehicle yourself, you are still responsible for inspecting the cargo, making sure it has been loaded safely, and ensuring that your truck is safe to drive.
Here are some tips for securing freight in a traditional tractor-trailer:
Balance Freight Properly
When you are loading cargo, it is essential to consider the center of gravity of your vehicle. A high center of gravity can increase the risk of the truck rolling over. This occurs when you stack freight too high or when you place heavier materials at the top. The safest way to load your trailer is by putting cargo as low as possible and placing the heaviest items at the bottom.
You should also take care to distribute weight evenly. If there is too much or too little on the axles, it can lead to poor traction, tire damage, and increased risk of rollover. Position cargo in the middle of your trailer and block/brace it so it does not shift during transit.
Know Weight Limits
It is important to know what the legal weight limits are for the states you will be driving through. Within the National Network (NN) of highways in the United States, federal regulations apply. However, if you drive on any smaller state highways, you will need to know the specific limits for that region. This includes the gross vehicle weight (GVW), gross combination weight (GCW), and axle weight.
Beyond legal considerations, driving an overloaded truck can be dangerous and can negatively affect steering, braking, and speed control. Weather or road conditions may also impact how much weight is safe to haul. For example, if you are driving on a mountain road or during a storm, being under the legal weight limit may still be unsafe.
Inspect Your Semi-Truck
Pre-trip inspections are necessary to make sure your vehicle is safe to drive. You must check for a variety of issues before starting your route. This process includes inspecting cargo, even if you did not load it yourself. During your inspection, make sure weight is evenly distributed and check that the freight does not block your access to emergency equipment.
In addition to an initial inspection, you will need to continue to check your load during your trip. Regulations for this may vary, so be sure to check what is required for the areas you will be driving through. In general, you will need to inspect every 3 hours or 150 miles. You will also need to do an inspection after any breaks you take while driving.
Drive With a Company That Values Your Safety
At DSW, we value our drivers and make sure they are safe on the road. In addition to excellent training for new drivers, we offer 24/7 support so someone can answer any questions you have during your route.